Galapagos Islands

Discussion in 'Special Sessions, Events, and Tour Announcements' started by bobhoge, Feb 9, 2005.

  1. Since Patrick is giving us access to this nice website and he replied to my Alaska post that he had seen the Lindblad Expeditions article on Galapagos in Outdoor Photographer and was interested in going someday, I thought I should do it next.

    Note Edited 5/9: I have added some landscape type images on page 2 of this post

    LOCATION: Galapagos, Ecuador

    PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES: Giant Land Tortise, Land Iguanas, Marine Iguanas, Galapagos Penguin, Boobies (Masked, Blue-footed, Red-Footed, Brown), Frigatebirds (Great, Magnificent), Vermilion Flycatcher, Flightless Cormorant, Sea Lions, Porpoise, Fish, etc.

    WHERE TO STAY: We went with Lindblad Expeditions www.expeditions.com aboard the 80 Passenger Polaris, they added a second ship this year the 48 Passenger Islander.

    BEST TIME TO GO: Almost anytime, the Islands are right on the equator so the weather is the same year-round. We went in November.

    All these photos are from 4x6 prints rephotographed with a Nikon 995 camera. Nan took most of them and thinks most were with the 28-70 lens, not the 75-300 we had at the time!!:

    Giant Tortise
    [​IMG]

    Marine Iguana, a serious case of ugly:
    [​IMG]

    These Blue-footed Boobies have built a nest in the middle of the marked trail, please step around/over them:
    [​IMG]

    Great Frigatebird (merely Great, not Magnificent (also there)):
    [​IMG]

    Yellow-crowned Night Heron:
    [​IMG]

    DETAILS: We took this trip in 1997, the first year the Polaris was in the Galapagos. There are 8 islands that we visited, each with its own set of wildlife.
    It is a very special place! The animals are not tame, they just don't pay any attention to you. After generations of no predators, they do not have any fear of man, my own explanation is that they think of us as mobile trees.
    You go ashore on each island, most of which are all a National Park. Things are fairly regimented as they are trying to protect a fragile environment. You are required to be with a naturalist/guide (about 1 guide for each 12+/- passengers) and more or less stick together as a group. There are well marked trails and paths which you need to stay on, sometimes fairly wide, sometimes single file.
    Nan was shooting a Nikon 6006 film camera at the time and did not use as much film as I thought she would. She said since you could walk right up to the wildlife and shoot, there were no wasted or second shots needed.
    It might be difficult to set up with a tripod to take shots, however Lindblad offers 4 Photo Expeditions this year. We took one of those to Antarctica. My guess is that they group the serious photographers together with a guide and go slower and allow more time to set up and take photos. I have traveled with the fellow who runs their Photo Expeditions (and leads most of them) 4 times. If you have specific questions I can put you in touch with him.
    The Polaris is a very nice and comfortable ship. The 80 passengers are the limit allowed on most of the islands at one time. The naturalists set things up so we are the only ones there. I'm not sure how it would work on the Islander which is smaller.
    We saw the Islander at a distance in Scotland before Lindblad bought it. It is a twin hulled ship, I don't know if that would make it more stable as a camera platform or if the longer Polaris at 238 feet vs. 164 feet would win out.
    I think we crossed the equator 8 times on this trip!
    The trip is set up at 10 days, nine nights. Fly out of Miami to Guayaquil, Ecuador, overnight there, fly 1+ hour to Baltra, Galapagos, and board the ship for 7 nights. Leave the ship and fly to Quito, Ecuador and overnight there, fly back to US.
    NOTE: When we did it, the Quito stop was first. It is at almost 10,000 feet altitude and Nan had trouble breathing there. It bothered her for the first day on the ship.

    For more photos see http://bob-nan.smugmug.com/gallery/350494

    If you have questions feel free to email us.
    Bob & Nan
     
  2. A Couple of Fun Shots from Galapagos

    I was going to use these in the original post, but forgot to add it.

    We had an event that shows how approachable the wildlife is. At one island when we were boarding our zodiac from the ship to go ashore, after a couple of passengers got on the zodiac, a sea lion swam up to the zodiac and jumped it. I thought sure he would jump out as more (us) got in, but he did not leave.
    He rode into shore with us and we hiked for about an hour. When we got back to shore, he was still sunning in the zodiac. He finally jumped out on the way back to the ship.

    On the way in, almost to the shore:
    [​IMG]

    Returning after our hike:
    [​IMG]

    Bob & Nan
     
  3. GeeJay

    GeeJay

    Jan 26, 2005
    Florida
    That's where I want to go eventually..Let me know if anyone from this forum ever wants to make that trip. I'll tag along.. What a great adventure you had, Bob, and quite an experience to remember--especially with your wonderful pictures.

    Best to you,
    Gaye
     
  4. Gale

    Gale

    978
    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Bob and Nan,

    Wow what a great trip. I want the seal :>)))

    I would love to go. Wonder if I will ever be able to.

    thanks for the journey Bob, I sure enjoyed it.

    Regards
    Gale
     
  5. Gale

    Gale

    978
    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Hi Gaye,

    Ya never know. I would sure love to.

    Regards
    Gale
     
  6. PGB

    PGB

    Jan 25, 2005
    Bob,

    Thanks for posting this. I eventually want to take my wife there. Since I revisited my photography hobby, with digitial, I see everything differently than I did when I was a kid. Nature is more exciting than it used to be and I find myself more compasionate towards animals, people, and the world. Its strange how pictures like yours, Peter Bendhiem, and others have affected me.

    Thanks,
     
  7. It is an easy trip from Miami, I think the flight is only 4 or 5 hours to Ecuador. Don't wait too long, they seem to raise the price a few hundred $ each year. Check for certain dates when they discount the airfare a bit.

    Gale, you might note that singles are only about 20-25% more than couples, not the as 50-60% on some ships.

    Four 2005 Photo Expeditions on May 6 & 13, Nov 25 & Dec 2 same price as regular. Note on Lindblad pricing, there is little extra to pay after Cabin and Airfare; just crew tip and bar & gift shop bill. The hotels in Ecuador are really nice (just don't drink the water!!). (Water on the ship is OK, made on the ship from sea water.)

    I suspect we will go again someday now that we have digital cameras.

    Bob & Nan
     
  8. Gale

    Gale

    978
    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Bob,

    Thank You for the added info.

    Cheers
    Gale
     
  9. skyward

    skyward

    23
    Apr 30, 2005
    Southport, Maine
    Terrific description and pictures - I hope to have the same experience as you clearly did. Is the leader, perhaps, Ralph Lee Hopkins? We met him in Costa Rica and he is the primary reason for the trip this time - leaving in a week and will post a few on return if there are any keepers.
    Regards,
    Skyward
     
  10. Hi Skyward,

    Ralph Lee Hopkins is the one who led the Photo Expedition to Antarctica we took in 2003 (which I still need to write-up here). That was the fourth time we had traveled with him, all very enjoyable, he is a lot of fun.
    The first time with Ralph was in Alaska in 1990 when he had just started working with Lindblad, then Ice Bears in 1997, and Fjords of Norway in 2001.
    We seem to be Lindblad "junkies" as we did Costa Rica in 2004 along with several others.
    You will really enjoy the Galapagos, the wildlife is a lot easier to photograph than in Costa Rica.
    I assume you are on the Photo Expedition on the Polaris starting May 6. Was your Costa Rica trip a Photo Expedition?
    Unless you drop your camera in the ocean on the first day, you will have lots of keepers, be sure to post some of them here!!
    Have a nice trip and please say "Hi" to Ralph from Nan & I.
    Bob
     
  11. Hey Bob, thanks for sharing your experiences and images of this neat trip. Sure looks like a blast.
     
  12. Rapman1959

    Rapman1959

    160
    May 7, 2005
    Dubois PA
    going next year, would love info.

    Bob and Skyward,

    I'm taking my family next July (2006) on the this trip with an extension to Machu Pichu. We are not going on the Photography trip as I'm the only one doing anything with photography (family vote). Anyways I have questions about equipment specifically lens. I have a D2X, D2H 12-24mm dx, 85mm 1.4, 70-200mm VR and 200-400mm VR. Assuming you could take any of this, is the 200-400 overkill or would it be worth taking? Thanks for all your help

    Adolfo
     
  13. Hi Adolfo,

    Edited change: In looking at the photos we took I want to change my lens thoughts with an addition down a post.
    What is here is probably OK, but not quite right.

    We took this trip back in the film days (1997) and had a N6006 with a 70-300 lens. Your 70-200 on a DSLR would be a 105-300 equivalent (but a lot better lens!!) I don't think you would want anymore length than that for Galapagos. The 70-200 will focus close enough won't it? Not sure about Machu Pichu, but I would guess the 200-400 would not be needed there either.
    The 12-24 or something like the 18-70G or 24-85G would be needed for the landscapes which are unusual. I have uploaded wildlife photos, but not landscapes. I'll try to work on some of those soon.
    There would be little use for the 85mm 1.4 in the Galapagos but might be very useful in Quito (Cathedral interiors, etc) and if there are interiors in Machu Pichu.
    The Galapagos wildlife is very approachable, with the only limitation being that you have to stay on the trails.
    I think Skyward is there this week and may have more information when he returns.
    From the Lindblad expedition reports they had a major encounter with a pod of orca by one of the islands on Tuesday http://www.expeditions.com/dersearch/derdetail.asp?id=8010 not sure if that would change the recommendation on lenses, but it looked like the photos were taken from a zodiac, not the place for a 200-400!! I have had a couple of close encounters with Grey Whales and Fin Whales while in a Lindblad zodiac. It is pretty bumpy and they are VERY BIG and very close more like 24mm than 200mm needed.
    Bob
     
  14. Rapman1959

    Rapman1959

    160
    May 7, 2005
    Dubois PA
    Bob,
    Thanks for the reply. I quess the only reason for the 200-400 would be flight shots. I would rather not carry it if it would not be used. Is there time to do macro work?. I can attach the cannon 500D to my 70-200 for this. I'm looking forward to hear what skyward has to say as well. Again thanks for your input.

    Adolfo
     
  15. Adolfo,
    As indicated two posts up, I want to change my lens thoughts for Galapagos. You aren't going to believe this, but not only is the 200-400 too much glass, I think the 70-200 is also!! It is hard to tell a wildlife photographer that there is such a thing as too much glass, but as Darwin found out, the Galapagos is not normal.

    On our 1997 trip, Nan took most of the photos, I was trying to do video at the time (OK, but not good). Looking at our album with about 300 photos from the trip here are the results as far as I can tell:
    We had a Nikon 6006 camera and the following lenses
    35mm Film Camera 18mm 28-70mm 75-300mm
    DSLR equivalent 12mm 21-47mm 50-200mm
    1997 Album Images 10 290 -0-

    All the wildlife shots are uncropped!
    I don't think the telephoto was ever out of the bag. There are only three or four images where it might have been useful to have a little more length. In a couple of those a later shot was close.

    It is hard to think of a 12-24 as long enough, but it might be! Seriously, I think I could go back and put a 18-70mm kit lens or the 24-85 and never change lenses. Also be able to walk upright when I got home.

    There should be some time for macro on some of the plants, especially on the main island of Santa Cruz where it is more civilized so you don't have to stay on a path and can wander on your own. It is greener here also so maybe more flowers and plants to macro on.

    You might also want to think about something to take underwater photos, even if it is just a one use film camera.

    Bob
     
  16. Rapman1959

    Rapman1959

    160
    May 7, 2005
    Dubois PA
    Bob,

    Thanks for all your input it has been a lot of help. And as you said my back will really appreciate less weight. lol

    Adolfo
     
  17. Additional Landscape Photos

    Here are a few additional landscape photos as promised a few messages back.

    You had to climb a good sized hill to take this one, but it was worth it.
    [​IMG]

    A nice blowhole:
    [​IMG]

    A huge overgrown sinkhole:
    [​IMG]

    Cacti:
    [​IMG]

    You might want to take along an underwater camera, even if it is just a one-use film camera
    [​IMG]

    More posted here:
    http://bob-nan.smugmug.com/gallery/522938

    Bob & Nan
     
  18. skyward

    skyward

    23
    Apr 30, 2005
    Southport, Maine
    A quick reply - you don't want to take the trip - it might spoil you as much as it did to us! We just got back and I need to sort through a few photographs, but I will post some of my early efforts as soon as I can.
    I envy you the trip in the future, as I would easily have repeated the same trip again this week, particularly as we missed the eruption on Fernandina - by 3 days.
    The very helpful comments from both Bob and David, and others, made our outing much more productive and I will try to compile my thoughts soon. But, they and others have been right on the money about lenses and accessories.
    Thanks to all,
    Skyward
     
  19. skyward

    skyward

    23
    Apr 30, 2005
    Southport, Maine
  20. tamachan

    tamachan Guest

    :shock:

    This is something that I definitely have to plan to go within the next two years. I've always wanted to visit the Galapagos and the like... this almost makes me want to cancel my Paris trip this year and go there instead...
     
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